The purpose of this study is to determine whether chest tubes can be safely removed without
considering how much fluid is draining through the tube.
Thoracostomy tubes are routinely used to drain the pleural space of fluid and gas to
optimize pulmonary mechanics. Clinicians frequently postpone removal of thoracostomy tubes
if the drainage from the tube exceeds a specific volume threshold for the prior 24 hours.
However, there is substantial variability in the drainage volume threshold that different
clinicians use, and no threshold has been established as clearly superior to any other.
Removing tubes independently of the drainage volume may result in a greater risk of pleural
effusion or pneumothorax requiring an invasive drainage procedure. However, removing tubes
independently of the drainage volume might also expedite recovery by allowing earlier
removal of the tube, thus diminishing pain and increasing patient mobility.
Thoracostomy tube management practices, including the drainage volume threshold used, may be
dissimilar for different types of disease processes, so this study will be restricted to
patients who required a thoracostomy tube for treatment of traumatic injury.
- Thoracostomy tube in place for <72 hours
- Age at least 14 years
- Hospitalized for traumatic injury or elective operation
- Thoracostomy tube already removed from the pleural cavity of interest
- Mediastinal tubes
- Death expected within 48 hours
- Prisoner status
- Severe congestive heart failure
- End-stage liver disease
- End-stage renal disease
- History of or suspected empyema involving the pleural cavity of interest
- History of or anticipated need for pleurodesis of the pleural cavity of interest
- Malignant pleural effusion
- Previous participation in this study
- Thoracostomy tube drainage already <2 mL/kg